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Lunch Is Served
Photograph - Original Photography By Deborah Benoit
Pelicans are very gregarious birds; they live in flocks of both sexes throughout the year. They are exceptionally buoyant due to the internal air sacks beneath their skin and in their bones, and as graceful in the air as they are clumsy on land. In level flight, pelicans fly in groups, with their heads held back on their shoulders, the bills resting on their folded necks. They may fly in a "V", but usually in regular lines or single file, often low over the water's surface.
When foraging, pelicans may fly a few feet or a considerable height over a school of fish and dive at high speed into the water, often submerging completely below the surface momentarily as they snap up prey. Upon surfacing they spill the water from the throat pouch before swallowing their catch. Only the Peruvian Pelican shares this active foraging style, while other pelicans forage more inactively by scooping up corralled fish while swimming on the surface of the water. Juvenile brown pelicans have been observed foraging in the surface-swimming matter of other pelicans. They are occasional targets of Kleptoparasitism by other fish-eating birds such as gulls, skuas and frigatebirds.
Although the Brown Pelican eats mostly fish, an occasional amphibian or crustacean may supplement the diet. Menhaden may locally account for 90-95% of their food. The anchovy supply is particularly important to the nesting success of the Brown Pelican. However, their preferred prey are usually not commercially fished species. Other fish preyed on with some regularity can include pigfish, pinfish, herring, sheepshead, silversides, mullet, and minnows, and they sometimes eat crustaceans, usually prawns. A single adult pelican can eat up to 1.8 kg (4.0 lb) each day. Today, in many coastal areas, Brown Pelicans will loaf around fishing ports and piers in hopes of being fed or stealing scraps of fish, especially if conditioned to do.
May 1st, 2013
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